USA Today on Prosper.com and microcredit

Posted on: Wed, 12/20/2006 - 12:10 By: Tom Swiss

I though Prosper was an interesting idea when I came across it a few months ago. In USA Today, Laura Vanderkam takes a look at it in the context of the larger microcredit movement:

Microcredit - small loans to people such as Miller who are neglected by traditional banks - is big news these days. Muhammad Yunus, founder of the microcredit Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, accepted the Nobel Peace Prize last week for his work developing the concept. But not all microcredit customers look like Grameen's (Bangladeshis borrowing $100 to buy a cow), and not all microcredit enterprises are charities like Grameen, either.

work in progress

Posted on: Mon, 12/18/2006 - 16:57 By: Tom Swiss

Something I wrote after Zelda's Sunday night. Needs polishing but I think there's something good here:

Wednesday mornings now I go running
almost a year now
not far, about three miles, halfway out then turn and come back
(out downhill, back uphill)
nice paved path, on pleasant days I pass moms with strollers, old people out walking

before I turn around and run back I turn off into the woods for a few minutes, along a trickle creek

sometimes, right about there
I feel him running with me

December 17th's Zeldas exercises

Posted on: Mon, 12/18/2006 - 16:49 By: Tom Swiss

December 17th's Zelda's Inferno exercises:

1) connecting 3 phrases (from random texts):

- why aren't I happier than this
- if you are excited about it
- hold tight to the memories

perversity of the brain
it holds tight to the memories of pain, humiliation, frustrated desires
while moments of joy and love slip through like water through a leaky flowerpot

walk through the fields of paradise and your boots stay clean
but mud and dog shit will always stick to your shoes

the popular theory of Christmas is joy but look beneath the veneer

Reuters: U.S. withdraws demand for return of secret memo

Posted on: Mon, 12/18/2006 - 15:45 By: Tom Swiss

Reuters reports that the federal government has given up its attempt to use a grand jury subpoena to suppress information obtained the ACLU:

"The issue was not the content of the document but the government's unprecedented effort to suppress it," said ACLU Legal Director Steven Shapiro. "Now that the document has been declassified, it should be plain for all to see that it should never have been classified to begin with, and that the grand jury subpoena was overreaching and inappropriate."

more political interference in American science

Posted on: Fri, 12/15/2006 - 13:35 By: Tom Swiss

LiveScience reports on new rules from the Bushies for scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey, putting controls on research that might go against the party line:

“I feel as though we've got someone looking over our shoulder at every damn thing we do. And to me that's a very scary thing. I worry that it borders on censorship,'' said Jim Estes, an internationally recognized marine biologist who works for the geological unit. “The explanation was that this was intended to ensure the highest possible quality research,'' said Estes, a researcher at the agency for more than 30 years. “But to me it feels like they're doing this to keep us under their thumbs. It seems like they're afraid of science. Our findings could be embarrassing to the administration.''

ethical versus sentimental value

Posted on: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 22:29 By: Tom Swiss

Another Slashdot post (quoted material is another poster to whom I'm replying):


Say there's going to be a huge tragedy and someone's family
is going to die. If you could chose whether your family dies or someone
other family dies, which would you choose?

There is a large difference between "If between my father and some
stranger, I can only save one, so I save my father", and "To save my
father, I'm going to kill a stranger." Everyone understands if I throw
the single life ring to my dad instead of some random guy (though I'd
try hard to save both); everyone also undertands that it would be
monsterous if I killed the stranger to get the new heart that my dad
(hypothetically) needed.

My father's life is more precious to me, sentimentally, than
that of a stranger, so if all else is equal and no one's rights are
being violated his claims have priority to me. But his life is not,
ethically, more precious than that of a stranger; I cannot make a good
argument that his life is more precious than J. Random Stranger, so I'm
going to kill J. Random Stranger to harvest that heart. We all
understand that to be a violation of J. Random Stranger's rights.

pray on your own time, please

Posted on: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 22:20 By: Tom Swiss

Something I posted on Slashdot today (quoted material is another poster to whom I'm replying):


The anti-christian community utilizes the same methods in trying to enforce where/when people can pray or trying to change decorations on a holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus.

You are absolutely free to pray anywhere and anyway you like - on your own time. (In theory. If you're Muslim, well, sorry.)

You are free to put up decorations commemorating any deities,
heroes, mythological beats, prophets, or demigods you choose - on your own property.

Requiring that people do their jobs in a professional manner
(e.g., teachers and military officers should not be spending their work time trying to convert others to their beliefs), and requiring that governments neither promote nor restrict religion, is not
"anti-Christian", it's pro-professionalism and pro-liberty.

(Oh, and let's be honest and admit that Xmas is a pagan celebration wrapped in a thin Xian veneer, ok?)

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